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Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

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TON  HTJMBOLBT.                201
Humboldt, following his usual method., takes the
Mediterranean   as   the   point   where   he   begins  his
physical history of the world;   he divides the Medi-
terranean into three parts;   the Egean,  the Ionian,
and the Tyrrhenian seas, and recognises these forms
of the  thrice divided Mediterranean as exercising a
great influence on the earliest boundary, and earliest
extension of Phoenician and Grecian voyages of dis-
covery; he shows how important is the physical form
of the coasts in the course of events, the direction of
naval expeditions, and the change of government, also
as a mode of developing ideas.   From thence he traces
the paths of the early civilization of the Hellenes, as
shown in their voyages in a north-eastern direction,
by their argonautic expedition to Colchis, towards the
south by the Ophir expeditions,  and westwards by
Colaus of Sarnos, and as evinced also by the campaigns
of Alexander the Great, which opened new roads of
civilization, and for the advancement of ideas, as new *
portions of the earth were included in the circle of
universal knowledge by conquest, language or litera-
ture.     The Greek spirit encouraged the intermingling
of nations, from the Nile to the Euphrates, from the
Jaxartes to the Indus,    The extension of the know-
ledge of the world was a sudden one, both by indi-
vidual study of nature, and by intercourse with other
ancient civilized and commercial nations.
Himiboldt pursues the increasing knowledge under
the Ptolemeans, after the dissolution of the Mace-
donian empire, and sees in the commerce of Egypt
with distant countries, in exploratory voyages to Ethi-
opia, in the long ostrich and elephant hunts, in the
menageries of the royal palaces of Bruchium, &c.,
stimulants to the study of natural history, and to the
increasing store of observations which were made at
this era of the Ptolemean, and of the Alexaadrioe
school, less by observations of individuals, tlkaaa by
order, comparison, and explanation of formerly ac-
quired facts. He then points to the foundation of the
Alexandrine Museum, and of two Ebr&ries? as titae
results of the practical sense, the comparative obser-